Weird woody worm

I have an old wooden stepladder that I keep in the shed. Last time I used it was to trim the ornamental grapevine on the verandah.

The other day I fetched it and placed it under a grey gum where I was mending a swing. Perhaps an hour later I went to fold it up and return it to the shed.
That’s when I noticed the bit of woody vine tendril stuck on one corner of the top step. I went to flick it off — but then it moved. It looped its way along the step, such dressed timber not allowing it to be as well camouflaged as it ought.

It had bark-like patches and twig-like knobs; it was beige and brown and grey, with tinges of pink and green — just like a living twig. An amazing little creature.
When it raised its head to suss out where to go next, it was almost rabbit-like with such thick antennae and a sloped face; but the rest of it was more caterpillar-ish, with three pairs of feet at the front and then a long stretch — the loopy part — before the end, where there seemed to be several pairs of feet separated by a sort of velcro gap.

But I could only catch glimpses of this occasionally; I could have sworn I saw blue under there — blue velcro? Or had its velcro picked up one of the very rare dots of old blue paint from the ladder?

It would appear to be a caterpillar of some moth of the family Geometridae, according to my Animals in Disguise book by Paul Zborowski.

I said it ‘looped’ along, but I could have said it inched along. Not surprisingly then, their common names are Inch Worms or Loop Caterpillars.
I could only assume it had fallen from the branches above; when I placed it on the rough bark of the trunk, it stood out straight like a twig, but soon dropped to the leaf litter at the base, where it looked much more at home. Just look at those markings!

6 thoughts on “Weird woody worm”

  1. I should have looked it up before; bless wikipedia –it was Anne Murray I meant, and the song was originally written by Frank Loesser. And yes, best known from Danny’s 1952 movie. What’s more, here are the words:

    Inch worm, inch worm
    Measuring the marigolds
    Could it be, stop and see
    How beautiful they are

    Two and two are four
    Four and four are eight
    Eight and eight are sixteen
    Sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two

    Inchworm, inchworm
    Measuring the marigolds
    You and your arithmetic
    You’ll probably go far

    (Repeat Chorus)

    Inchworm, inchworm
    Measuring the marigolds
    Seems to me you’d stop and see
    How beautiful they are

  2. DWG, the one I am thinking of must have been a cover of that; it was on a children’s tape, so yes, a lullaby, and I think her name was Anne ????

  3. Yes, there was a song written about “The Inch Worm”and sung by Danny Kaye in Hans Christian
    Andersen. From an old lullaby I think.

  4. Awesome it is. Inchworm is a common name for them here too apparently but I’d never seen one; wasn’t there a song for children by a U.S. or Canadian singer called that?

  5. I have never seen this species and it is absolutely amazing that you have seen it in all of its actions!! We have its cousin that comes in green and we call it an inchworm. Amazing how they move about, but the color of yours is camouflage at its greatest. Thanks for sharing this unusual find!!! DWG

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